Customer service at Coinbase and Robinhood is abysmal—on design. In customer satisfaction surveys, cable providers and airlines typically fall in the lowest position. Businesses that deal in cryptocurrency, on the other hand, give them a run for their money.
Calling Comcast or Frontier Airlines will ultimately connect you to a live person on the other end of the line. In cryptoland, there’s no such luck. Sure, it may take a long time, and the representative you speak with may be ineffective, but those companies employ people to engage with their customers. Some of the best-in-class crypto brokerages do not have working phone lines, so if you are looking for help with an issue with one of their platforms, try contacting them online or via email. You can look for answers on their online help sites or submit an email to get a response from an automated system.
Cryptocurrency companies like Robinhood and Coinbase were launched in Silicon Valley, where the most important value is becoming enormous and wealthy as quickly as possible. Hiring humans, especially in a cost center like customer service, obstructs this purpose. They reasoned that as long as the rest of the consumers prospered, it was worthwhile to drive a small minority of customers to despair. Rather than hiring someone to answer the phone, you might set up a chatbot or an online Q&A.
That calculation paid off handsomely for them. In the prior quarter, Coinbase recorded a record profit of $1.6 billion, while Robinhood went public in July and is profiting on BTC (bitcoin) but the third quarter was less thrilling. They could put some of that money toward hiring enough phone operators to staff a whole skyscraper, but it would slow down their expansion aspirations.
It’ll be fascinating to see how long this can carry on. Because cable and internet service providers are monopolies or near-monopolies, they can be extremely destructive. They don’t have much else to do with their customers. That isn’t the situation in crypto, where new players appear on a weekly basis, all claiming to be able to assist you in buying and selling BTC (Bitcoin) and ETH (Ethereum). If some of those companies decide to treat their consumers as humans, they could be able to capture a significant portion of the market.
Cable and internet service providers have been behaving like monopolies for years. But in the real world, they don’t have much choice but to treat their customers like humans. Successful consumer brands such as Toyota, Nike, Costco, and Google have learned that treating customers like garbage can lead to multibillion-dollar market caps. Now is the time for crypto enterprises to follow suit.